Imagine the snow crunching under your snowshoes as you trek among towering pine trees, stooping under the weight of their white winter coats of snow. Then in the pale winter sunlight, the snow glistens as you walk along a path to your wooden chalet on the shores of the fjord. Or swing your leg over the saddle of a snowmobile to roar across the back country at a heart-racing speed. Experience all the outdoor adventure in Quebec, the Canadian province with deep French roots. Come visit the Saguenay Lac Saint Jean region!
What to do in Saguenay Lac Saint Jean in the Winter
With the season’s first snow arriving in October and the last flurries falling in May, winter settles into the mountainous region du Québec and sticks. No matter how high the snowfall, the Quebecois, the people of the province, don’t hibernate. They layer up and enjoy the glorious winter landscape that looks a Bob Ross painting. Read on for what to do in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean in the winter.
Monts-Valin National Park
With 59 square miles of wilderness to discover, the area offers exceptional scenery in winter. And Monts Valin National Park equips visitors with an array of equipment perfect for use in exploring.
Grab a pair of snowshoes to explore any of its 77 kilometers of trails. Or strap on some cross country skis to traverse the deep snow. Other activities include fat bikes, back country skiing or snowboarding.
First stop by the Discovery Centre for rentals, maps and advice.
Snowshoeing in Monts Valin National Park
For easy and scenic snowshoeing trek, try the Lac des Péres, an easy 3-km loop that starts at the Discovery Center. This loop offers a scenic and level snowshoeing experience, great for families.
For the signature snowshoeing adventure, arrange a trip to the Vallée-des Fantômes. It’s a 6.5-km intermediate trail with a warming hut along the route. And the trail ends at the Pavillon Antoine Dubuc, a cabin and warming hut.
Blowing snow covers the trees with fine, glistening powder so heavy thinner trees dip and droop. The well-marked trail offers a pristine view from the top of Pic Dubuc on a clear day.
Take a guided tour to push your group. The backcountry guide will explain how to ascend mountains and glide down inclines with snowshoes.
For the Valley of the Phantoms Trail, arrange for the Snowcat Shuttle service in advance. They provide one departure during the week and two during the weekend. Pack plenty of water along with a hearty lunch and snacks. Dress in layers; googles are advised for snowy or windy days.
Monts Valin National Park is located at 360 rang Saint-Soice in Saint-Fulgence, north of du Fjord-du-Saguenay and the St. Lawrence River. Admission for adults only ($8.60 CAN), kids under 18 are free. Equipment rental extra, hourly and daily rates available. Snowcat Shuttle additional fee and reservations are required.
Explore the Canadian Landscape with Contact Nature
The Contact Nature is a nonprofit that offers recreational activities for locals as well as tourists in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area. It arranges activities depending on interest and season. Contact Nature is located at 7400 Chemin des Chutes in La Baie.
Snowmobile the Summit Circuit
As the third largest trail network in Quebec, Okwari Adventure, part of the Contact Nature nonprofit, is the perfect guide for your group through the winter landscape. Enjoy the ride on Arctic Cat Pantera 7000 snowmobiles.
Get a quick lesson along with all the winter outer gear for your guided adventure. Even for novices, snowmobiling is quick to learn and offers an exhilarating ride.
TravelingMom Tip: The driving is for licensed drivers only and snowmobiles are powerful machines. Reservations required.
Visit the Ice Fishing Village on the Saguenay Fjord
The Quebecois know how to ice fish in style. Forget about those fly-away tents some outfitters use. With Contact Nature, get a wooden hut with heat and seating. The fishing guides will even bait your hook.
Next up: sit back and wait for a nibble. The Saguenay River is tidal and offers an array of fish. Reservations required.
Learn More at Musee du Fjord
A must for families, the Musee du Fjord offers a 53,000-liter saltwater aquarium displaying the marine species of the Saguenay River. Then see marine species du-saguenay up close in the tidal tank, located next to the larger aquarium.
Another must for kids, see the multi-media show Journey into the Heart of the Saguenay Fjord. With aerial, land and underwater images, kids learn about the formation of the fjord.
Walk through the exhibition explaining the history of the region as well.
Located at 3346 Boulevard de la Grand Baie Sud in La Baie. Admission based on age and kids 5 and younger are free. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and closed on Mondays.
Where to Eat in Saguenay Lac Saint Jean
Enjoy rustic French food while exploring Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area of North America.
L’érudit Café—Warm up with a cuppa. Try the old house coffee shop for a cup to go or sit and stay a while. The L’érudit Café offers all the coffee drinks. Located at 24 Rue Racine in Chicoutimi.
Bistro Café Summum—Find a seasonal menu with flavors of the boreal forest and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a bar and espresso. The atmosphere is casual with solid menu offerings from burgers, pizzas and salads with a rainbow of vegetables.
Located at 786 Rue Victoria in La Baie.
Where to Stay in Saguenay Lac Saint Jean
The Saguenay region offers European-inspired chalets and national park cabins in addition to standard lodging.
Pourvoirie du Cap au Leste—Enjoy the rustic, yet refined ambience of a secluded chalet set among the pines and along the shores of the Saguenay Fjord. With dogsledding and snowshoeing on the property, explore the winter landscape during the day.
Then retreat to the main lodge for hearty dinner at the on-site restaurant, The Mukushan. Or savor a night cap with a view of the fjord, like Sortilege, a whisky maple drink. Nights come early in winter so keep warm in the indoor heated pool or sauna.
Cabins at the Monts-Valin National Park—Located in the park itself, find small groupings of furnished cabins. The cabins offer a rustic getaway for families or small groups with sleeping for four.
Each cabin features electricity along with a wood-burning stove along with a filled wood box. Find simple furnishings with two single platform beds with foam mattresses. Make dinner in the kitchenette with a full refrigerator and range. The bathroom includes a shower only though hot water.
Auberge des Battures—Offering traditional hotel lodging in the town of La Baie, find comfortable hotel rooms with luxurious showers. The views of the Saguenay Fjord are outstanding too.
And don’t miss its on-site restaurant that uses the flavors of the boreal forest in its dinner menu. The on-site bar features several of Saguenay’s signature cocktails and craft brews.
Located at 6295 Boulevard de la Grande-Baie Sud.
Where’s Saguenay Lac Saint Jean?
Saguenay Lac Saint Jean is a region in Canada’s Quebec province and located about two-and-half hour’s northeast of Quebec City and the St. Lawrence River.
It features a regional airport, Saguenay-Bagotville Airport (YBG). Though Via Rail Canada service stops at Quebec City, with service out of Montreal.